Kennedy Square, The “Kiggins” Arrest and Your Local Neighborhood Corner Store

When you travel around your neighborhood, depending on where you live there are commercial businesses that have been there for generations. Corner stores, bars and restaurants in the commercial corridors that flow through many of our neighborhoods.

In some neighborhoods there may only be one store housed in a dwelling that may have an apartment upstairs. For years these businesses were side-by-side with quiet residential housing. The stores and their “keepers” were also good neighbors.

As I travel to the west end, I look in horror as the once pristine Tipp Hill Corner Store has a bright purple & white sign taped on the side of the clapboard building. It was ugly, it had features of a new cell phone service and it joined a chorus of signage that included beer and other products as if you didn’t know where to find beer cheaper than water.

Our urban corner stores are plastered with signage and what’s not pasted on their walls is scattered on the ground in concentric circles around their business.

A Syracuse landlord begged the judge to let him out of jail after being sent to the Justice Center for not complying with orders to fix his raggedy-rundown-code-violation-prone properties.

The owners of Kennedy Square should have been standing next in line for arraignment. Kennedy Square’s roof shingles resemble a snake’s peeling skin and the storage sheds are rotting. It’s a shame that the complex will soon follow Cherry Hill’s fate, the wrecking ball. Look for a Target or other establishment taking Kennedy Square’s place. While the property’s run down the area is now prime real estate. As vintage TV’s Gomer Pyle would say, “surprise, surprise, surprise!”

Kennedy Square, Kiggins and your neighborhood corner store beg the question, “what do they have in common?” A lot. The Kiggins arrest shows how judges exercising their new powers in our community is full of conditions that threaten our quality of life.

More needs to be done to the large property owners who collect rent for years while not paying their property taxes. Houses that many of these companies own couldn’t withstand another Labor Day 1998 Storm, they’d simply be blown away. In some cases taxpayers are footing the bill, forking over market rate rents for some nasty piece of wood someone tacked a sign on and had the nerve to call it a rentable home.

Steps recently taken by the city of Syracuse are in the right direction, but how about enforcing those signage rules and other edicts that look good on paper. Imagine how our neighborhoods would look if these laws were actually enforced?

Imagine living in substandard housing? Getting up to a cold front blowing through your apartment, the National Grid meter is spinning and on $5.15 an hour you are expected to sustain a household and raise good children. Good luck.

The once plush residential landscape has been replaced by urban fields. Stores that once complemented the urban scene have become brazen examples of what happens when a neighborhood starts the long spiral downward.

First it’s signs plastered like organized graffiti, next it’s the gutted blunt wrappers in your driveway…and then the shootings. Like the proverbial Canary in the Coal Mine the aesthetic decline of our city’s commercial neighborhood core are harbingers of things to come.

Perhaps right next door.